Short Story Sunday #37

FOUND

            It wasn’t mine. I wasn’t entirely sure who it belonged to, but I found it. If I was the one who found it then that must mean that it was mine, right? If the person who previously owed it really wanted it, then they wouldn’t have lost it. Or maybe they lost it by accident, but they surely would have come back looking for it. Am I right?

I wonder who this belonged to in the first place. I wonder how they lost it. I wonder how long ago they lost it. Seriously, how long has this item been sitting in the middle of the sidewalk? How long has it been missing from its owner? Do they realize they lost it?

My mom always told me that if I found something that didn’t belong to me, I should turn it in to someone. If I found a lunchbox at school, I would have to give it to the teacher or the principal and they would find the rightful owner. You know how some people always ask you that hypothetical question like, “if you found a 100-dollar bill lying on the ground, what would you do? Keep it or take it to the police?”

I always told people I would turn it into the police. I mean, that is the answer they were looking for, right? There was nothing in the question that said I had to answer truthfully. I didn’t swear on the Bible or take an oath to answer a rhetorical question.

So, there I was face to face with this question that was in fact real. It was no longer hypothetical. I was in the situation for real. It wasn’t a dream. It also wasn’t a 100-dollar bill, which I had to admit I was pretty disappointed about. If it were a 100-dollar bill then there would be no question about it. I would pick it up, put it in my pocket, and walk away without another thought.

Yes, I did say I would bring it to the police, didn’t I? I know turning it in would be the right thing to do, but no one is perfect. Not everything does the right thing when they are supposed to. Besides, what are the police going to do with so much cash? The bill’s owner doesn’t have GPS on it. They can’t keep track down who dropped money while they were walking down the street. Why did they even drop it? We can’t figure that out, either.

I’m getting off topic, aren’t I?

How about this: when kids find something they always say finders-keepers, am I right? Can’t that rule apply to adults, too? The item was lost, the owner doesn’t seem like they’re coming back for it anytime soon, and I found it. So that means it’s mine. I think that makes perfect sense. In fact, it’s logical. Kids are so smart these days!

I was still standing in the middle of the sidewalk. I didn’t even bother to pick up the item because for some reason I was thinking so deeply into the matter. I walked over to the curb and sat down with my feet sticking out into the street. The road was quiet as it was in the middle of the day so most people were at work. There were barely any other people walking down the sidewalk, too. I’m sure if there, someone would have picked the item up by now.

I looked to the left and then to the right. A young woman was turning the corner holding onto a little boy’s hand. They were walking in my direction. I turned the other way as I didn’t want to make any eye contact with them. I needed to think.

Should I take the item and keep it? Should I take the item and try to find the rightful owner? Should I just leave the item on the ground and wait for someone else to come along and give them my troubles?

Am I thinking too deeply into this? Would anyone else sit on the side of the road and think about such an item on the ground in the middle of the sidewalk like I am? Would they just walk by, pick it up, and bring it home? Would they just walk by and leave it on the ground not bothering to give it another thought? Maybe other people would walk by and they wouldn’t even notice the item sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. I kind of wish I didn’t notice the item. Then I wouldn’t be so late for work at the moment.

I twisted my neck and peeked over my shoulder. Sure enough, the item was still sitting on the ground. It was mocking me. I felt as though it wanted me to take it home, but then I felt as though it was going to want to go back to its rightful owner. Someone was definitely going to be missing this item.

I turned back around and thought for a few more moments. After thinking and thinking and thinking some more, I finally stood up. I dusted myself off and turned back around to face the item on the ground.

I decided that I was going to end up taking the item home with me. Who knew how long it had been out here? It was only going to get ruined if no one claimed. So, I was going to claim it. Except… it was gone.

I looked left and then I looked right. The young woman with the little boy was turning the other corner, walking away from me. There, in the little boy’s hand I noticed the item.

He didn’t seem to think twice about picking up the item and taking it home with him. I had wasted too much time thinking and now I was never going to be able to get the item. It was gone. It was lost, but it had been found. Then I lost it. And the little boy found it.

Short Story Sunday #36

LATE ARRIVAL

            “Sorry I’m late. I didn’t want to come.” I smirked to the host as soon as she had opened the front door of her home. My hands were shoved into my pockets and my breath was rising into the air with every word I spoke.

“Well? Aren’t you going to let me in?” I winked.

“Oh, uh… sure.” The woman stepped aside making way for me through the doorway.

I stepped up off the porch and into the foyer looking all around the room. I nodded my approval and slid my jacket off my body. “So, how’s the party going so far?”

“It’s going well, thank you.” The woman held out her arms to take my jacket.

“Oh, well aren’t you a wonderful host.” I smiled mockingly.

She glared at me, but brought my trench coat over the closet and hung it up. She closed the double doors and pointed into the next room.

“Myself and all the other guests are in there having dinner. Won’t you care to join us?”

“Hm, depends… what are we having?” I stroked my chin with a raised eyebrow. “You know I don’t like anything too fancy. You didn’t cook lobster or sushi or anything like that, did you? Is there caviar or maybe a little escargot from your trip to France?”

“Michael, don’t do this tonight. Please?” She frowned at me sounding exasperated already and I had only just walked through the front door.

“Mike,” I corrected with a glare, “or Mikey. Remember you used to call me that even though I preferred Mike? I let you call me Mikey anyway because I liked you. And you liked me at some point too, if I recall correctly.”

“Mike,” she sighed, “I know you don’t exactly approve of this, but this is my engagement dinner. Can’t you please just support me and be happy for me?”

“No I can’t do that, Julie. Sorry.” I shrugged.

Julie closed her eyes and rubbed her temples while taking a few deep breaths. I kicked at the ground waiting for her to look at me again. For a moment, I felt ashamed for the way I was acting. Then again, she should have been marrying me… not her new boss!

“You don’t even like any of this stuff.” I stated. “You live in a big, fancy house with a butler, a maid, and a cook. You eat foods that you don’t even like. You go on trips that you have no interest in. Did you even like France?”

“It was… an interesting experience.” Julie stated matter-of-factly.

“In a bad way,” I rolled my eyes, “you two are complete opposites.”

“Opposites attract, didn’t you know that?” Julie commented.

“That only counts with science. This is chemistry we’re talking about.” I growled.

“Chemistry is science.”

“Not when we’re talking about people!”

“Keep your voice down.” Julie glanced into the other room. “I don’t want you to be making a scene.”

“I think your fiancé does a pretty good job at doing that on his own.” I grumbled.

“You’re just jealous because he got to me first.” Julie glared at me. “I invited you because we’ve been friends since we were children. You’re my best friend, Mike. You’re my biggest support system, you always have been. I’m able to tell you everything. I–”

“Then tell me the truth,” I interrupted, “do you love him?”

“Excuse me?”

“Answer the question.”

Julie stared at me with even eyes. It was difficult to read her expression or figure out what she was thinking. I couldn’t tell if she was hesitating because she in fact did not love her fiancé or if she was just trying to get out of answering because she thought I was utterly ridiculous.

“Do you love him?” I prompted.

“Maybe our friendship would have gone on to the next level if you weren’t such a child all the time.” Julie responded.

“That… had nothing to do with what I just asked you.” I said with a puzzled tone.

“Maybe if you had just got the courage to ask me then this engagement dinner would be for you and me. Did you ever think of that?” Julie frowned.

“I am thinking about it now. That’s why I’m asking… do you love your fiancé?” I took a step closer to Julie and stared down at her.

“It doesn’t matter whether I love Jack or not.” Julie looked up at me with a glare. “I am getting married to him and that doesn’t change the fact that you and I aren’t together. Don’t you understand that?”

I kissed her on the lips.

Julie took a step back with a look of horror. “Why did you do that?”

“A kiss usually gets the girl to come to her senses in the movies.” I shrugged and looked down at the ground. “Did it work?”

Julie opened her mouth to respond, but she looked passed me instead. I turned around and saw Jack standing in the doorway. How long had he been there? How much of our conversation did he hear? Did he see the kiss?

“Darling, are you coming back to the table? The guests are asking for you.” Jack looked right through me as he spoke to Julie.

“I’m attending to another guest out here.” Julie replied promptly.

“Yes, I can see that.” Jack glared at me.

“You can go back into the dining room, honey. I’ll be in there in a minute. Michael was just leaving.” Julie looked directly at her fiancé and didn’t dare to bring her eyes back in my direction.

“Good,” Jack stated and disappeared back into the dining room.

I took a deep breath and turned towards the front door. I didn’t have anything else to say to Julie. I didn’t even want to look at her. I put a hand on the door knob and then pointed to the closet.

“That trench coat was a gift from my mother… I’ll just take that with me, if you don’t mind.” I said to the door.

“Mikey,”

I turned and looked at Julie. She was holding my jacket out to me, her eyes filling with tears.

“I’ll have the maid help me pack. Wait for me in the car?”

Without any hesitation, I kissed her on the forehead. “I’ll leave the engine running.”

Short Story Sunday #35

CATS

            Oh, to be a kitty on a snowy day. It’s one thing to not have the responsibility of anything in the world, but to have the actual opportunity to relax whenever and where ever you want was a blessing in my eyes.

Cats had it so easy. They didn’t have to go to school, they didn’t have to go to work, they didn’t have to worry about money; they didn’t have to worry about anything that us humans have to worry about. The only things cats had to worry about were where their litter box was, who was going to fill up their food dish, licking themselves clean, and where to sleep. Oh, and maybe they worry about when they have to go to the vet next.

However, that doesn’t seem like a lot. I would love to sit around all day taking naps, only to wake when I was hungry. The most stressful thing in my life would be going to the vet.

It was the first week of November and snow was beginning to fall from the sky. It was the first snow fall of the season. People complained, but for once in a long time Mother Nature was actually being appropriate weather wise.

I had to go out in the snow. I had to go to church and teach my Sunday school class. When I left the house, it was cold, rainy, and raw out. I had a puffy winter, water-proof coat with my hood over my eyes as I watched the ground while walking to the car. I didn’t like the cold weather to begin with and adding rain to it was just making the day worse.

Of course, while I was at church snow began to fall. As the hour went on, the rain officially stopped and the snow continued coming down harder and harder. The flakes were a decent size, but none of it was really sticking to the ground. That meant there was going to be a bit of slush on the ground which, to me, was just gross.

I gazed out the window with a sigh. Today would have been the perfect day to sleep in and stay home all day. I would have loved to stay in my pajamas, make a cup of hot chocolate, and curl up on the couch with a warm blanket and a good book or even watch a good movie. It would even be nice to take a long, hot bubble bath. I had too much to do that day, though. Relaxing wasn’t going to be an option.

When church was over, I drove in my car with the windshield wipers going on medium speed as the snow smacked into the windows. The backseat windows were completely covered in snow making it hard to see as they fogged up.

When I made it home, I was completely chilled to the bone. I made myself a large cup of coffee to warm up and also to keep myself away from all the other things I was going to have to do that day.

I entered the living room with my cup of coffee steaming in my hands and I noticed my cat lying on his back in the middle of the room on the brand new carpet. I took a sip while snickering to myself. He looked as though he had keeled backwards and died; especially when his right hind leg twitched suddenly.

Placing my mug down on the coffee table, I kneeled on the floor beside my cat and rubbed his belly. Most cats don’t enjoy getting their bellies rubbed, but my cat loved it. I startled him and he meowed at me as he shot his eyes open. Once he realized it was only me, he rested his head back down on the floor staying rolled over on his back and allowed me to continue rubbing his belly.

“It must be nice to be a cat; especially on a cold, raw day like today.” I sighed.

His long fur made him feel so warm. Add that with the carpet and the fact that he was sitting right next to the heating vent; he was probably so toasty warm that he must have felt like he was sitting in front of a fireplace.

I stood up, glancing out the window. I looked back down at the cat who was now sitting upright right next to my leg. He looked up at me with wide eyes and let out a soft meow and then purred. I bent down to scoop him up in one arm and I grabbed my coffee mug with my other hand.

I brought him up the stairs and into my office. I set him down on the couch where he laid back down and fell straight to sleep. I put my coffee down on the coffee table in front of the couch and exited the room to go into my bedroom. I changed back into my pajamas and grabbed a couple of blankets off of my bed. I brought them back into my office.

I searched my shelves for a long movie and decided on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. It was a long enough movie to keep myself occupied for a few hours. I turned it on, curled up in the blankets on my couch, and my cat snuggled up close to me. Together, I watched the movie while sipping on my beverage and he fell back to sleep again.

Oh, it must be really nice to be a cat; especially on snowy, cold days. Of course, it wasn’t that bad to be a human on those kinds of days, either. Every once in a while it was nice to just sit down, relax, and enjoy the company of the cat.

Short Story Sunday #34

STRAWBERRIES

            “Sorry, I’m allergic to strawberries.” Maggie Henderson smiled sheepishly.

“You… are?” her elderly neighbor frowned. She looked at the counter in the kitchen and stared at the food set out as a buffet.

“Yes…” Maggie frowned now as well. She didn’t mean to upset the old woman.

“Oh, dear,” her neighbor sighed, “if only I had known. I am so sorry.”

“No, please don’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault.” Maggie shook her head trying to defend Mrs. Ravens.

Mrs. Ravens had a prize-winning garden in her backyard. She was never married and she didn’t have any children of her own. So, once she retired, she took up gardening as her hobby. It ended up becoming more than a hobby, but the sole reason of her existence. When she wasn’t able to garden in the winter, she hibernated because she didn’t know what else to do with herself.

When Maggie received an invitation to go to Mrs. Ravens’s “Garden Party” she assumed all the food would be from her garden. This would include lettuce, carrots, corn, pumpkin, squash, cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, and many more; including strawberries. However, Maggie just figured she wouldn’t eat the strawberries.

Apparently, unknown to Maggie, Mrs. Ravens decided to experiment with strawberries and only strawberries that past summer. Everything in her garden, aside from flowers, and the occasional vegetable to accompany dinner, were strawberries. Mrs. Ravens discovered how the Internet worked at the beginning of the summer and decided to challenge herself through her gardening.

She found recipe upon recipe for strawberries through the Internet and because of that she wanted to try them all out. She started looking up recipes that used pumpkin so she could grow only pumpkins next summer and have a pumpkin party. This would continue on with different fruits and vegetables for summers to come. Unfortunately for Maggie, this summer just happened to be all about strawberries.

Everything served at the party had strawberries in it; real strawberries, too. Mrs. Ravens didn’t bother to use strawberries flavors or anything artificial in her cooking. She only and always used natural ingredients in her food.

“I wouldn’t have invited you if I had known, dear.” Mrs. Ravens was pouting. She didn’t blame Maggie, but she blamed herself.

“Don’t feel bad, Mrs. Ravens. I’m sure everything is delicious. I’m just sorry that I’m not able to try any of it.” Maggie looked around the kitchen. She watched her other neighbors wander from dish to dish, scraping food onto their plates as though they were at a buffet. The food looked good. The food smelled good. Maggie wanted to try a taste, but she couldn’t risk it.

Mrs. Ravens scratched the back of her head. “Well, I would still like you to stay for the party. I have milk in the fridge and I have some cookies. I made strawberry cookies, but I have Oreos as well. You can have that for dessert, if you like.”

Maggie opened her mouth to agree, but Mrs. Ravens continued to rummage through her kitchen to find other things.

“For dinner… I don’t know what I can give you for dinner.” She murmured to herself. She opened a cabinet and smirked hopefully at her young neighbor. “Peanut butter and jelly? I have fresh home-made bread.”

Maggie frowned and shook her head slowly. “Uh, I’m allergic to peanuts… sorry.”

Mrs. Ravens sighed and let her shoulders droop. “Were you always allergic to these things? I watched you grow up next door. How did I not know any of these things about you?”

“Well, I’ve never eaten at your house before.” Maggie shrugged. “Don’t worry about it, though. It’s all okay.”

“But what am I going to feed you?” Mrs. Ravens asked in a panic.

“I can eat when I get home. I would love to have some Oreos and milk, if that offer still stands.” Maggie suggested. She wanted to make Mrs. Ravens feel better, but she didn’t know how to go about that.

Mrs. Ravens nodded her head with a smile. “Of course you can still have cookies and milk, dear. I just feel bad that I can’t give you anything else.”

“Don’t worry about that. I just appreciate you inviting me to this party in the first place.” Maggie attempted to make her elderly neighbor feel better.

“Well… are you allergic to anything else? I plan on having a party like this at the end of every summer, but just with something different I’ve grown in my garden.” Mrs. Ravens explained cautiously.

“I am only allergic to strawberries and peanuts.” Maggie confirmed.

“Next year I plan on using pumpkins in everything.”

“Pumpkins are fine,” Maggie nodded even though she didn’t like pumpkin all that much. However, she was willing to try it for Mrs. Ravens.

“So you’ll be able to come to my party next summer and you can actually eat?”

“Yes,”

“Wonderful!” Mrs. Ravens clapped her hands together and walked over to the cabinet again. She took out a cup and poured a glass of milk for Maggie. Then she took out the Oreos and handed Maggie the entire package.

“Eat as much as you want,” she explained, “You know where the milk is. If there is anything else that you would like to eat, just let me know and I’ll tell you if it has strawberries or peanuts in it.”

Maggie chuckled. “Thanks, Mrs. Ravens.”

Mrs. Ravens patted Maggie on the shoulder with a smile and disappeared into the other room.

Maggie poured her glass of milk down the sink drain and placed the empty glass in the sink. She took out three Oreo cookies and stared at them.

A young boy who lived a few houses down the street stared at the cookies in Maggie’s hands. Maggie put the package away and handed the three cookies to the boy.

“Do you want some?”

He nodded and took the cookies with a smile.

“Don’t let Mrs. Ravens see.” Maggie explained and watched the boy eat the cookies quickly right in front of her.

Maggie sighed. She didn’t have the heart to tell Mrs. Ravens that she was allergic to milk as well.

Short Story Sunday #33

WAITING

            It was three o’clock on a crisp October afternoon. It was raining off and on all day long and at the moment it was down pouring. A woman stood in the middle of her driveway wearing her white raincoat. It was buttoned up to her neck, her hood hunched over her head covering most of her face. Her hands were shoved into her pockets due to the chill in the air, her knees bending up and down trying to keep warm.

Every so often she would lift her chin in order to see over the hood of her coat. She looked to the left and to the right whenever she heard a car pass by. However, the car never was the black pick-up truck that she was expecting. Every couple of minutes, she would take her phone out of her pocket to check the time.

Water droplets covered the screen after being out of her pocket for a brief moment. She wiped the screen on her jeans before putting her phone back into her pocket. It was 3:10. She had been waiting outside in the rain for ten minutes now.

Of course, the weather was terrible. There was bound to be traffic out at that time. People were probably driving more slowly on the roads than usual due to all the puddles. Plus, she didn’t know where this truck was coming from. It could have been ten minutes away or it could have been an hour away. However, it would have been nice if she was told it was an hour away. Then she would go back inside for a little while.

She was told that she was going to be picked up around three in the afternoon, so that was why she was standing out in the pouring rain at that time. She rocked back and forth trying to keep warm, fog emerging out of her mouth with each breath.

“Mom!”

She turned around and looked at the front door. Her teenage son stood in the doorway with his arms folded against his chest. He wasn’t wearing a jacket or even a sweatshirt. He wore a t-shirt with shorts and his feet were bare. He didn’t expect to go very far, but he was standing outside on the front porch.

“I’m sure he’ll beep the horn when he gets here. Or, maybe he’ll even be a gentleman and get out of the car and come up to the door to ring the bell.”

“He’ll be here soon, Don.” The woman raised her voice competing with the distance and the rain.

“He’s already ten minutes late and you’re going to get sick waiting for him. Just come inside and get warmed up. He’s not going to want you sitting in his front seat if you’re wet and soggy.” Don countered.

“If he minded a soggy date then he wouldn’t be this late.” She replied. “The weather is bad, I’m sure he’s just running into some traffic.”

“Mom,” Don sounded exasperated.

“Doesn’t he work on Thursdays? I think he works on Thursdays, if I remember correctly. He might be stuck at work if that’s the case.”

“If that was the case, then he should have the decency to pick up a phone and call.” Don stated.

“Maybe he did. Did the house phone ring at all, Don?” she took out her cell phone and checked the screen. It was 3:20. “I don’t have any recent calls on my phone.”

“No, no one called. Just come back inside, will you?”

“He’ll be here soon!”

Don sighed and went back into the house. His mother stayed outside in the middle of the driveway. She looked up when she thought she heard another car, but it was only the trees blowing in the harsh winds. Her hood flew off her head. She closed her eyes and turned her head in the opposite direction so the wind wasn’t blowing in her face as she tried to put her hood back on.

She jumped when she felt a dry blanket drape over her shoulders. She turned around with a smile and then it faded all too quickly.

“Oh, sorry. I thought you were…”

“Dad, I know.” Don sighed finishing her sentence. “Mom, I don’t think he’s coming. He’s cancelled on you three times and now he’s not even bothering to do that.”

“You don’t actually think he’s standing me up, do you?” his mother looked her son in the eye.

Don checked his wrist watch. “He’s 25 minutes late. I don’t think he’s coming, Mom.”

“But when I spoke to him on the phone last time he said that he might be ready to move back in.” she stared down at the ground tears forming in her eyes.

Don wrapped an arm over his mother’s shoulders and steered her away from the street and back towards the front door of their house. “I know… why don’t we go back inside and talk about it? I’ll make you a cup of tea to get you warmed back up.”

“But what if he comes while we’re inside? I don’t want him to think that I forgot about our start over date.” His mother sniffled, but willingly walked back up the driveway with her son.

“If he actually shows up I think he should apologize for being so late and making you wait outside in the cold rain.” Don explained.

He opened the front door and allowed his mother to enter first. He helped her off with her jacket and sat her down on the couch.

“Let me make you some tea.”

“If he shows up, you’re not going to turn your father away, will you?” she asked before Don could leave the living room.

Don hesitated to respond. He knew his father was never going to give his family another chance. He knew his father wasn’t even going to show up. If he did, Don would have to gather all his strength and will power not to kick his father out.

Finally he sighed and shook his head. “No, Mom. I won’t kick him out for you.”